I keep saying that Craig Lawrence is making leaps each season but I thought there was a pinnacle reached this time round that REALLY made an impact. When Lawrence first talked of Martin Parr as an inspiration for S/S 12, I was thinking there'd be something vividly tacky about the collection.... a splodge of candy pink, bright lobster red and a smear of vivid deckchair blue perhaps. There was none of that and instead, the collection took the route of delicate nostalgia-tinted hues that are can be traced back to the seaside with all the possible nacre tones that you can see bouncing off a shell. Lawrence, is of course not alone this season in diving into the sea. Rather than ganging up with the rest of his fashion week peers though, I see this as a continuation from his S/S 11 mermaids-inspired collection, which is precisely why I imagine these S/S 12 pieces drifting along a very English beach - the sort where the sand and skies are grey and the wind really pounds your face - which makes this particular sea-based collection stand apart from the other more tropical deep sea dives as seen at Givenchy, Chanel, McQueen etc.
The subtlety of the glistening shades of peach, rose-gold, pale gold and cream are best seen in Morgan O'Donovan's backstage pics as my catwalk ones make everything seem brashly gold when in reality, the shades of kyototex yarn are really quite delicate. Even the hot-fix crystals and crystal yarns which are woven into the pieces give a slight bit of a shimmer rather than full on bling-attack. Where the theme of the seaside becomes more literal is in the use of Alcantara, a suede-like material, which Lawrence used to cut a filigree openwork pattern recalling surfaces of starfish or sea anemones. The headpieces are of course for show effect but in the leggings that are then layered under the kyototex yarn skirts, it becomes quite a stunning textural effect as per the norm in Lawrence's collections which are rife with innovative knitwear and textiles work. The difference here is that you can begin to separate things out - jumpers, skirts, leggings, bras, skirts - all the components that are recognisable on their own and not just a mass of yarn. The layering possibilities become mind-boggling when you consider the sheer quality of each piece (that's sheer as in see-through by the by, although superior quality is of course a given with Lawrence's collection too...).
I took some up-close shots in the showroom just to illustrate the subtle use of pastel yarns knitted with cream and gold so that you get very pale washes of green, blue and lilac without having a full on pastel onslaught. This multi-dimensional slant shows another stroke of breadth on Lawrence's part. I can bang on and on about how beautiful the presentation was (once again narrated with ensemble descriptions) but ultimately, I'd just love to see Lawrence recognised as a serious innovative knitwear designer alongside say, the stretch knits of Mark Fast or Sandra Backlund's sculptural feats. Lawrence has it in the bag as far as I'm concerned but it's time to convince the rest of the world of the same.